Somewhere Else Before

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Though jazz was born and bred in the United States, its influence long ago spread throughout the world, and its popularity overseas has continued to grow even as its significance on the American music scene has waned. This Swedish group, also known as the Esbjörn Svensson Trio, is among the jazz trios to land on North American shores, and their acoustic jazz sound seems certain to build a following in the States. Led by pianist Svensson, the classic trio's sound is deeply steeped in jazz tradition; witness the Bill Evans-style serenity of the title track, which features drummer Magnus Öström's textural brush work to great effect. But while nobody's gonna confuse E.S.T. with Medeski, Martin, & Wood, they do bring eclectic influences like art rock and drum'n'bass to the table, giving tracks like the raucously funky "Dodge the Dodo" and the techno-inspired "The Wraith" a welcome modern twist. The trio may be a little too jazzy for the jam band crowd and a little too arty for jazz traditionalists, but once they find a way to reconcile their disparate influence a tad more seamlessly, they could be onto something uniquely wonderful.

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